Canadian men's soccer coach Benito Floro rips players
Puts team through high-intensity scrimmage 1 day after draw with Mauritania
In their first training camp under new head coach Benito Floro, the Canadian men's soccer team has been mostly treated to a man with a calm, calculating demeanour.
A day after playing to a scoreless tie against Mauritania in the first of two friendlies between the countries, Canada was put through a high-intensity scrimmage where special focus was placed on free kicks and corner kicks.
Floro stood in the middle of the action and, clearly displeased at something near the end of the session, lit into his players, at one point slamming a ball he was carrying to prove a point ahead of Tuesday's second match.
"The shouts and the screams are going to be something that we're going to have to get used to," said midfielder Julian de Guzman, who said the dressing down by the new coach reminded him of his four seasons playing with Spanish club Deportivo la Coruna.
"The most important thing is just to understand what he wants. This could change the national team in a huge way, in a positive way, and it's just a matter of getting everybody on the same page because the football that he has to offer is very special."
Floro briefly raised his voice again in a speech to the players at the end of the session.
While he didn't speak after practice, there was no ill will on the part of the players.
"That was the first time I'd seen it," said defender Adam Straith with a bit of a smile. "Every coach, in my opinion, has to do that sometimes when things aren't the way he wants them to be.
"I think the point came across and I think we'll be ready [Tuesday] to put in a good performance."
After years of struggles for the program and a 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign that went ended with a humiliating 8-1 defeat to Honduras in October, Floro is trying to overhaul the team's style of play.
The focus has been on having the defenders instigate the attacks and keeping the ball on the ground — a change from the past when Canada often tried to knock the ball long.
Many of those involved in the Sunday game have left to return to their respective clubs, but there were still more than 20 players training on Monday.
"Everything's new," said forward Simeon Jackson. "You have a lot of young players so it's going to take some time but there's no rush. We just want to make sure we get it right and hopefully it's going to be in the right direction and changing into getting results."
Monday's session wasn't as long as others in the camp with the second game on the horizon. The usually azure blue skies and hot conditions that have been the trend for this week were replaced with clouds, a lot of humidity, and the occasional spell of rain.
The players who took part in Sunday's match showed no negative after-effects of what was a surprisingly physical encounter against their West African opponents.
The game featured a lot of younger players while Tuesday's lineup should be a bit more experienced.
This camp has been like going back to school for the players as youngsters and veterans alike are learning a new style of play under Floro. Results aren't expected right away and with two years to go before World Cup qualifying, there will be growing pains as everyone gets on the same page.
"We need that transition period and that building up process to the qualifications," said defender David Edgar. "[Floro] needs to build his squad and implement his system of play that he's looking for. It's not going to come overnight. It's going to come over months and as many camps as we can get in and that's the main thing."